AMSTERDAM – Nearly a quarter of Dutch people born after 1980 believe the Holocaust was a myth or that the number of its victims was greatly exaggerated, a survey published on Wednesday showed.
The Netherlands is one of six countries surveyed on Holocaust awareness by Claims Conference, a nonprofit organisation that works to secure material compensation for Holocaust survivors. The others were Austria, Canada, France, Britain and the United States.
Interviews with 2,000 people over 18 showed that 12 percent of respondents in the Netherlands believed the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated – the highest among the countries surveyed.
This figure rose to 23% for those born after 1980, according to the survey, compared to 15% in the United States and Britain.
“This is not only very shocking, it is also very serious (…) As a society, we have a lot of work to do. And we have to do it fast,” Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius said on her Twitter account in reaction to the survey.
Gideon Taylor, Claims Conference President, said in a statement that the findings were part of a growing trend.
“Survey after survey, we continue to witness a decline in Holocaust knowledge and awareness. Equally disturbing is the trend towards Holocaust denial and distortion,” Taylor said.
The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe.
In the Netherlands alone, there was an estimated population of close to 150,000 Jews before before World War II started in 1939. Some 75% of that population was murdered.
Responding to the findings, the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank Foundation made a plea for more Holocaust education in schools.
Anne Frank is known the world over for the diary she kept while living in hiding during the Nazi occupation. It was published after her death at Bergen Belsen camp aged 15.